Challenging the informal WTO-Ministerial in Davos

Zurich, 02.02.2005 - Switzerland is using the WEF as a platform for an exclusive informal WTO meeting of ministers in a select circle. The Federal Council hopes to get new impulses for future WTO negotiations. The Berne Declaration calls on the Swiss government to respect the official forums for WTO negotiations and not to give preference to its own economic interests.

While in July 2004 Switzerland was excluded from the WTO negotiations in Geneva, the Swiss government is taking the opportunity to use the WEF as a platform for an informal WTO meeting of ministers on Saturday 29 January, inviting some 30 ministers. Two weeks earlier, federal councilor Deiss hat traveled to Brussels in order to coordinate the positions of the EU and Switzerland. "The industrialized nations will try, with the assistance of the economic leaders present in Davos, to put pressure on developing countries to open their markets, in particular in the services sector, i.e. financing, tourism and public services" This is the concern of Marianne Hochuli of the Berne Declaration. This concern is given even more reason by the fact that the USA is hoping for concrete steps towards opening of markets being initiated in Davos. In its report on foreign economy for 2005 Switzerland also declared the approach of new markets in developing countries in particular for services as a target, either through WTO or in bilateral negotiations. The Berne Declaration as well as many international organizations and movements condemn this type of informal WTO meetings and calls on the Swiss government to respect the officially established forums in which all WTO members can participate. In addition, aspects of development and environment are to be the focal point of world trade negotiations. If this is not the case, Switzerland is not living up to its pledge to realize the Millennium Development Goals, i.e. to cut poverty in half by the year 2015.